Female tourists to India plunge 35% amid gang rapes

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Indian protesters burn an effigy depicting rapists during a rally in New Delhi (AFP/Getty Images).

Indian protesters burn an effigy depicting rapists during a rally in New Delhi (AFP/Getty Images).

The number of female tourists travelling to India has fallen 35 percent amid a series of gang rapes that have made international headlines, according to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

Total tourist numbers also are down 25 percent compared to the same time a year earlier.

The Indian tourism industry has been rocked since a 23-year old medical intern was raped by six men while travelling on a bus in New Delhi on December 16, 2012.

She died from her injuries 13 days later while undergoing emergency treatment in Singapore.

Six men – five passengers and the bus driver – were charged over the incident. The bus driver was found dead in jail and the other men are being tried in a fast-tracked court.

Within 24 hours at least another two teenage girls claimed they also were raped in unrelated incidents.

Last month, a Swiss woman also was allegedly gang raped. She said she was attacked while camping with her husband near in a village in Madhya Pradesh state.

A South Korean tourist was allegedly drugged and raped in the same state in January by the son of the owner of a hotel where she was staying.

The high incidence of rape in India led the United Nation’s human-rights chief in January to described it as a “national problem”.

ASSOCHAM said 72 percent of the 1,200 tourism operators surveyed across the country had received cancellations in the three months since the bus rape, which sparked protests.

They blamed the significant decline in tourist numbers on concerns over falling levels of safety and security and the ongoing global financial downturn.

General secretary D.S Rawat said numerous countries’ decision to issue warnings to travelers going to India had exacerbated the problem.

Tourists were instead opting to go to other Asian countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Tourism is a major industry in India, with 6.6 million international tourists who visited the country last year spending US$17.74bn, according to the Tourism Ministry.

India had set a goal to double foreign exchange earnings by 2016.

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